How Will our Anxiety Look When Life Gets “Back to Normal?”Dec 09, 2020
It has affected me and my family at various levels throughout different stages of my life. I’ve had periods where I wouldn’t eat out at a restaurant that was more than 15 minutes away from the house. Once I refused to get on an airplane and upset a family visit. As I’ve gotten older, my anxiety, while still there, is far less likely to cause me to adjust plans. However, if I’m being completely transparent, if I did allow my anxiety to take over I would be a full on agoraphobe – never leaving the house.
And here we are in the middle of a global pandemic. Being encouraged to stay home.
What Does This Mean for Those of us Who Suffer From Anxiety?
I will separate us into two camps:
1). Those of us who have the flexibility to stay at home more during this time.
2) Those of us that have to be out there working and doing the things during this time.
Both are double edged swords.
Those of us That Continue to be Out There Working and Doing the Things
These women have to have anxiety levels through the roof on many days, depending on their situations. These are our medical personnel, grocery workers, and people who have to be at their jobs because they need to continue to collect a paycheck.
This lack of control over the situation is the epitome of anxiety producing for those of us who need to be in control.
The other piece of it is the anxiety that goes with being out there and being exposed daily to the virus.
On the flip side, these women are continuing to be out there doing the things. I believe, they are likely to be in much better shape anxietywise when this is all behind us. They haven’t stopped a lot of their normal activities like the rest of us have.
Those of us With the Flexibility to Stay Home During This Time
I have gone from having days filled with work, grandchildren, date nights with husband and friends and combinations of all of the above to going to the office twice a week for 4-5 hours at a time, doing an occasional drive by to see the grands on a nice day, walking, and working from home the rest of the time doing telehealth with my clients or creating content.
I’ve gone from everyday being a full day from the moment I woke up until I went to bed to having to create my own full days mostly from home. My full days pre Covid were often a source of anxiety for me, even though I loved everything I was doing. All of the what ifs. What if I had a vertigo attack in the middle of the day and even worse, if it happened while one of my grands was in the car? (This never happened, of course.) What if I got in a car accident? And the night before a busy day I’d be so worried about not getting the sleep I needed for the next day that I would lie awake. Vicious circle.
Although that anxiety often robbed me of much of the joy in moment, I did not let it prevent me from actually doing the things.
What will Happen When Life Gets Back to Normal for Those of Us Who are At Home More?
I’ve now been basically home for 9 months and it will likely be over a year when all is said and done. Will I be able to pick up and get back to where I was? Day after day?
Yesterday I had to take one of our dogs to the vet and our vet is in downtown Washington, DC – about a 45 minute drive on the highway and into the city. I had not done a drive like this in at least 9 months. My anxiety was escalated. I had trouble sleeping the night before.
Was I going to be okay driving on the highway? What if I couldn’t find parking?
The good news is that my anxiety didn’t feel any worse than it had before. All of this time at home didn’t seem to increase the level. And I went to the vet and got home safe and sound with no issues.
So, maybe I’ll be able to ease back into my routine with little damage done. Here’s hoping.
What About Our Kids?
Unfortunately, anxiety runs in our family – my grandmother suffered from it, then my father, and I passed it down to my kids and I think possibly the grands. We all function well with it, at least on the outside.
I worry about my grandson who does have some anxiety about being away from home and parents. He is LOVING this virtual school life and I fear the transition back next year might be difficult.
(Hopefully we’ll ease him in with some sleepovers at Yammi and G-dah’s!)
I’m sure he’s not the only one. Teachers, parents, and school professionals will need to be at the ready. Many of our kiddos are going to have a tough transition. They haven’t been given enough practice this year to learn that those situations that might make them uncomfortable really are safe. They’ve not had enough exposure.
In the Meantime...
We muddle along and keep doing the best we can. None of us have ever experienced anything like this. We must continue to challenge ourselves and our anxiety as much as we can throughout this pandemic. We must be proactive and take hold of our days and our activities rather than let the days take hold of us. Don’t hide your anxiety. Talk about it. You aren’t the only one going through it and speaking it out loud takes away its power. That’s been a huge life lesson for me. Speaking to others about my anxiety takes away its power.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if your anxiety is interfering with you being able to live your life normally and/or do the things that you want to do, either now or when it is safe to resume normal activities. There is no shame in seeking counseling and it can be a game changer.
We got this!